Jenny Jarosz wanted a library for her birthday. And that’s just what she got.
“I turned 77 on July 25 and I told my husband it was all I wanted for my birthday,” said Jarosz, who describes herself as a book lover and a member of the Brookfield Friends of the Library.
Her stepson, Jeff, downloaded plans from the Internet and built the little library in four days. It’s got a “country” vibe, sporting barn red paint and a shingle roof.
She had seen other little libraries in front of homes in LaGrange and Hinsdale and thought it’d be a great thing to share her love of books with others, including the children of Lincoln School, located just up the block.
In the front yard of her home in the 4300 block of Forest Avenue in Brookfield, Jarosz planted the cabinet atop a post and filled it with books of all kinds — children’s literature, popular fiction, historical fiction, self-help books, you name it.
“Once school starts I’m going to put more children’s books in there,” said Jarosz.
Anyone is free to simply swing by and check out one of the books from the library, you don’t even have to return the book. If you want, you can replace the one you’ve taken with one of your own.
Jarosz’s library is an ever-evolving source of books for anyone who loves reading.
Soon her book nook will be part of the network of Little Free Libraries that has sprouted nationwide since the concept was introduced by a Wisconsin company in 2009. She’s paid her $34.95 and will soon have a charter number for her library, which means it’ll be listed on the Little Free Library’s worldwide map of all the charter locations.
It’ll be the first Little Free Library in Brookfield. When she gets the charter number, Jarosz said she’ll also pass out a flier to neighbors letting them know of the library and she’ll bring a flier to Lincoln School to let them know kids are welcome to stop by and grab a book.
The library is a way to make the thought of giving up her books a little more palatable.
“You can’t get rid of your books; you’re emotionally attached to them,” said Jarosz, whose tastes run toward historic non-fiction.
The last book she completed was David McCullough’s The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, which she read just before a trip to Paris in April to visit her granddaughter, Heidi, who spent the semester studying there.
She’s now making her way through Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, which tells the almost unbelievable story of Louis Zamperini, an American Olympic athlete who served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in the Pacific. After his plane crashed in the Pacific, Zamperini survived 47 days drifting in a life raft before being captured by the Japanese and enduring two years as a POW.
Jarosz helps the Friends of the Library with their book sales and said she wasn’t sure how the Brookfield Public Library would view her horning in on their territory.
But library Director Kimberly Coughran said she’s thrilled Jarosz has erected her little library and hopes more people do the same.
“The Little Free Libraries are good for readers and for neighborhoods,” said Coughran, who is familiar with several similar libraries in her hometown of Oak Park. “We love it when we walk by and see one. I hope more people put up Little Free Libraries in Brookfield.”